This event has now finished.
  • Date and time: Wednesday 5 June 2024, 5.30pm to 6.30pm
  • Location: In-person only
    Bowland Auditorium, Berrick Saul Building, Campus West, University of York (Map)
  • Admission: Free admission, booking required

Event details

Knighthood was a central motif of medieval courtly literature, and hunting, just like the tournament, was an undertaking characteristic of aristocratic life. Yet, although a badge of elite secular status, hunting was also a problematic or, better, fraught pastime in the Middle Ages in the minds of many earlier and contemporary commentators.

Given the longstanding vigour of criticisms of participation in the hunt in the 13th century, any saint’s life, which opened with a hunting scene, would have immediately signalled to readers or listeners that the unfolding story would reveal a deeper character flaw.

Medievalist Professor William Chester Jordan of Princeton University, USA, examines three such lives. The first is the legend of Saint Eustace, an ancient story circulating in 13th-century Europe. The second is the life of Saint Germain, a youthful aristocrat living in late antique Gaul, whose story was also popular in the High Middle Ages. The third and final set of tales relates the tragic yet redemptive story of Saint Julian the Hospitaller. The events of his extraordinary life were narrated in various genres in the 13th century and have continued to inspire many modern retellings, most famously that of Gustave Flaubert.

Join Professor Jordan and discover how these three lives offer a revealing entry into the moral universe of the medieval aristocracy.

Annual Aylmer Lecture

Image credit: Saint Hubert 1469, Getty Museum Collection

About the speaker

A medievalist by training, William Chester Jordan is Dayton-Stockton Professor of History and Director of the Program in Medieval Studies at Princeton University, USA. He served as Chair of the Department of History from 2008 to 2017. His books include The Great Famine: Northern Europe in the Early Fourteenth Century, the winner of the Haskins Medal of the Medieval Academy of America, A Tale of Two Monasteries: Westminster and Saint-Denis in the Thirteenth Century, From England to France: Felony and Exile in the High Middle Ages and The Apple of His Eye: Converts from Islam in the Reign of Louis IX, whose French translation, La prunelle de ses yeux: convertis de l’islam sous le règne de Louis IX was a finalist for the Prix lycéen du livre d’histoire in 2021. Past President of the Medieval Academy of America, he received a Doctorate of Laws honoris causa from Harvard University in 2019 and a Doctorate of Humane Letters honoris causa from Oxford University in 2022.


University of York

Venue details

  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Hearing loop